Day 9 Part 2 - Washington DC at Night  
    Stars and Stripes from the base of the Washington Monument.    
Minolta XD11 with 200mm f/2.8 MD Tele Rokkor Film: Fuji Velvia 100F

Night was falling on a lovely Fall evening in Washington DC when I was dropped off by my friends in the centre of the city. I had arranged to photograph some of the sights in the city by night, and then to catch the Metro out to where we were staying later in the evening.

I had decided not to walk the full length of the Mall, but instead to visit the Western end, simply because of time constraints. It takes a long time to walk the length of the Mall, as I had already discovered. Additionally, I was yet to see the White House, and as a result I wanted to get there before the sun had fully set.

My nocturnal tour of the city accordingly started with me at the Washington Monument, admiring the city as the sun started to dip towards the horizon. It was interesting that aircraft were flying low over the city, taking off from and landing at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport. I had set up my tripod to capture one of these aircraft silhouetted by the setting sun, when I was advised firmly by security that tripod photography near the base of the monument was restricted. Wondering what threat my tripod could possibly pose, I reluctantly moved on, after capturing the image above.


The White House at dusk.


Minolta XD11 with 85mm f/2 MD Rokkor-X Film: Fuji Velvia 100F


The site for the White House was chosen by President George Washington, together with city planner Pierre L'Enfant. As preparations began for the construction of the new capital city, a competition was held to find a design for the new President's residence. The winner was James Hoban, an Irish born architect who based the design on Leinster House in Dublin. Construction began in 1792, and was completed in 1800, when President John Adams became the first residents.

In 1807 architect Benjamin Latrobe, at the behest of Thomas Jefferson, added pavillions at either end of the building. He also designed a striking semicircular Southern portico and a rectangular Northern Portico. to complete the building. However, prior to the commencement of work on the porticos the building was gutted by fire in 1814 by the British. James Hoban was appointed to supervise the restoration which was completed by 1817. Between 1826 and 1829 the porticos were finally added giving the building the appearance it has today.

The view from the front of the White House is quite spectacular, and is well worth a visit. The road is blocked as a precaution against terrorism, however the guards are quite friendly, again as long as you don't try to set up a tripod. With light falling I despaired of getting a good shot, as exposure times were drifting out into the seconds. Conveniently, however, I noted that the bars in the fence were at just the right width to align with the XD11 camera body. By holding the camera tight against the bars I had a perfectly stable support.


The Lincoln Memorial at night.


Minolta XD11 with 24mm f/2.8 VFC MC Rokkor Film: Fuji Velvia 100F


The Lincoln Memorial, while striking in the day, is truly impressive at night. The building is very hard to photograph due to the high contrast between the floodlit areas and the shadows, and it is very easy to overexpose the highlighs, as I have done above. I included this photo despite its flaws, because it gives a sense of the grandeur of the memorial at night. It is a powerful symbol, both to Americans, and the world.


Interior of the Lincoln Memorial.


Minolta XD11 with 17mm f/4 MC W.Rokkor Film: Fuji Velvia 100F


The National Parks Officers superintending the building kindly permitted me to use my tripod, and only asked that I not take too long, as naturally many people wanted to photograph the Memorial. The hardest part about photographing the memorial at night is getting an exposure without someone standing directly before the monument, having their photo taken by a friend with a point and shoot camera. Eventually, I was fortunate enough to capture the image above.


The statue of Abraham Lincoln, Lincoln Memorial, Washington DC.

Minolta XD11 with 85mm f/2 MD Rokkor-X Film: Fuji Velvia 100F

The statue of Abraham Lincoln takes on a different aspect at night. The darker background and different lighting provided it with a sterner, more masculine appearance. It certainly was worth seeing both at night and during the day.

After leaving the lincoln Memorial I walked down towards the Jefferson Memorial, along the edge of the tidal basin. In this area is the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial, dedicated to the 32nd President of the United States, who led the country from 1933 to 1945. The views across the tidal basin from the FDR memorial are striking.


The Washington Monument, viewed from across the Tidal Basin.


Minolta XD11 with 85mm f/2 MD Rokkor-X Film: Fuji Velvia 100F


With time getting on it was now time to return to Gaithersburg, and my friends, and to say goodbye to Washington DC. Tomorrow David and I would be flying to the next stop on our American Journey, New Orleans.

The late train home.
Minolta XD11 with 24mm f/2.8 VFC MC Rokkor. Film: Fuji Velvia 100F

Please visit Day 10 of An American Journey next week for our first day in probably the most colourful city of the United States, New Orleans.

Next: Day 10 - New Orleans
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